There are two doppelgangers of my acquaintance. It has been suggested (by me) that, since they look so similar, they could save money and merge to become one person. They both tell me they would not want to give up their autonomy. They have so much in common!
The two doppelgangers live in different countries and have never met, but have agreed to having lunch together, if I go to the trouble of arranging the whole thing. I will also be allowed to take a picture. It’s going to be pretty fantastic.
In order to arrange the meet-up, I have to make travel arrangements for them both and apply for various visas and permits. In filling out these seemingly endless forms, I am not able to state the true reason for their visit as it seems… ridiculous, frivolous… and so I am forced to construct elaborate, serious-minded lies for which I draw up dry business plans to add an air of authentication to my claims. The whole process is laborious and interminably boring and throughout the whole thing I keep in mind the end goal – how fantastic it will be to see my two acquaintances standing next to one another looking exactly the same.
Just when I have finally finished filling out the forms, I wake up.
I thought the rule was that you should not end a story with, “and then he woke up and it was all a dream,” but my tutor says it is more than that, she says, “don’t write about dreams, people get bored of hearing about other people’s dreams.”
But what if what you’re writing about is not the dream itself, but how you feel after the dream? What if it’s about the effect the dream has on you?
She frowns. Another rule is, “don’t write about writing. Your readers don’t care how you wrote it, they just want a story.”
I went to the visa office to try and salvage some of my hard work. I thought maybe the hours I had spent filling in their forms might come in use to someone, somewhere, somehow. Maybe they could scoop up all that spent effort, pull it in to this reality and donate it to someone who needed to complete a boring task.
Maybe someone in the real world knew some doppelgangers. As it turned out, I didn’t. I was not acquainted with two people who looked exactly the same as one another, just lots of people who looked only like themselves. When they stood next to one another, they looked entirely different to one another.
The visa office was located in the dead space underneath one of the cantilevered stands of the local football ground. A long queue stretched towards the desk and when I looked at the faces of the people in the line they were all the same, or at least there only seemed to be four or five different models for faces from which their faces had been forged, and in my feverish paranoia the notion occurred to me that they were plants, placed in that queue to do nothing more than dissuade anyone from ever even thinking of bothering to make a visa application, a job which the dark, forboding environment was already doing rather well.
But in the gaps in the concrete there were these little fractal cacti growing, improbable bursts of bright colour and these quickly became a high point of this whole episode, though I could only see them – I was not able to verify their existence in reality.